Saturday, December 16, 2023

The Problem with Academia

We shouldn't be surprised at what is happening in Cambridge, MA, since radical anti-truth and anti-Christian sentiment on our university campuses is open and blatant. And it's been going on for decades. The roots of the problem go far deeper than many are willing to expose. And "evangelical" campuses are not immune to the poison. In the year 1976, a professor at a well-known evangelical seminary in Southern California published a book in which he argued that Paul's teaching about women was not only wrong but self-contradictory. This was the year I began teaching at Biola and looking into doctoral programs in New Testament. Whatever consideration I had given to attending this seminary for my doctorate died a quick death after this scholar's attack on Paul's authority. I also ruled out getting a doctorate at one of the more prestigious divinity schools in the U.S. because I knew that these schools were "liberal" (open-minded) until you espoused a conservative point of view. The educational system in Europe was much more conducive to getting a genuinely liberal arts education -- hence my enrollment at the University of Basel. Sadly, even that has changed in the intervening years. The core of American academia is a rot so deep that it is quite frankly irredeemable. It cannot be salvaged. Not when religiously conservative professors at the world's greatest universities have less liberty to speak out than the average person on Twitter. 

The question to be asked is, "Where does this come from? What is it rooted in?" The problem is that we're not digging deep enough. Prof. C. H. Dodd, who in many ways was a great New Testament theologian, says in his introduction to his commentary on Romans, "Sometimes I think Paul is wrong, and I have ventured to say so." No, Paul was not wrong. And we cannot disagree with him just because we find something he says objectionable to our modern sensibilities. It is utterly absurd to suggest that our authority is as great as that of the apostles of Jesus Christ. It is not. Their authority is God's authority. Paul's authority was not human authority, it was not ecclesiastical authority, it was divine authority, and we must submit to it. 

As evangelicalism in America grows, it becomes more and more threatened by accommodation to a secular worldview. Some evangelicals have even argued that God intended the writers of the Bible to use their limited (and at times erroneous) knowledge in making statements about historical, geographical, and scientific teaching. More than ever, acceptance of the inerrancy of Scripture is the watershed of modern theological controversy. The attitude that professors at Harvard and other ivy league schools toward the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible will determine their positions not only on faith but on practice. It is thus apparent that those who claim "Veritas" as their motto must yield the right to the use of the name "Truth" so long as they give up an authentic, dependable, authoritative, trustworthy, and infallible Bible.

That is our problem today. Nothing more, nothing less.